Washington, Jan 18 : A new research has suggested that Australia's extinct marsupial lion could have easily defeated the present day African lion, had the two animals ever faced each other in a fight to death.
Published in the Journal of Zoology, this research compared both the carnivores to come up with the conclusion.
While the marsupial lion killed prey rapidly, using its "bolt-cutter" type teeth to scissor through hide and flesh to produce major trauma and blood loss, African lions, in comparison, use their bite force to suffocate prey, using a "clamp and hold" technique that can take up to 15 minutes with large preys.
"My results suggest that the marsupial lion employed a unique killing technique. It used its massive carnassial cheekteeth to effect major trauma and a rapid kill," said research author Stephen Wroe.
"Unlike any living mammalian carnivores, the marsupial's carnassials were not only butchery tools but also active components in the killing process," he added.
According to the research, had a large marsupial lion ever come face to face with an African lion of similar size, it could have use its deadly cheek teeth and incredibly powerful arms to inflict mortal wounds on the mammal.
Using a sophisticated computer modelling method that renders dynamic 3D models based on CT scans of the marsupial's cranial mechanics and musculoskeletal architecture, Wroe has revealed that the creature's skull, jaw, and head and neck muscles were well adapted to using the unique technique for killing large prey, but not for delivering the prolonged suffocating bite of African lions.
"The marsupial lion also had an extremely efficient bite," said Wroe. "In addition to very powerful jaw muscles for its size, its muscle and skull architecture were arranged in such a way as to take greater advantage of leverage than in living cats," he added.
According to Wroe, the new findings support the conclusion that the creature regularly preyed on relatively large species and was able to effect quick kills and withstand large forces generated by large struggling prey.
"Had it not become extinct, it might now hold top spot over toady's 'king of the jungle," said Wroe.